The son of a Wilson administrator, Beidel is enrolled through the College’s employee provision and has strong family ties to Wilson: his mother, Patty, and two sisters, Jennifer and Emilee, are graduates. But when it was his turn to decide on a college, Beidel’s first choice was not Wilson. He enrolled in a nearby, highly respected liberal arts institution. Although he enjoyed the classes and instructors, something was missing. He didn’t feel welcome.
"It was like walking into a fraternity where the whole college was the fraternity," said Beidel, who felt like an outsider.
After discussing it with his family, Beidel decided to transfer to Wilson for his sophomore year. Initially, he struggled with the feeling that he didn’t quite fit in, but he soon became comfortable and began to flourish. Once at Wilson, Beidel discovered a hidden talent for creative writing. He settled on English as his major and mapped out a course for his future. Last spring, he was named the Disert Scholar, an honor reserved for the student with the best honors thesis proposal.
Beidel says he couldn’t have done it without the nurturing and supportive environment at Wilson, where he has embraced every challenge and come to appreciate a liberal arts education.
Beidel credits English professor Larry Shillock for awakening his appreciation of literature. It was Shillock’s interpretation of John Cheever’s short story, "The Swimmer," that triggered Beidel’s imagination. "That story in particular became much different when I re-read it," he said. "I realized there was something deeper to it. … You start looking at things in a different way and your brain starts thinking differently."
Beidel’s adviser, Dr. Michael Cornelius, has become a role model, helping him craft a plan for his future — continue on to graduate school, become a college instructor, while writing his own brand of fiction, a newly born genre called New Wave Fabulism.
"Instead of being just one number on a big grid of people who don’t care about you, I feel like I got the attention here I needed," he said. "If my adviser had 50 other people, I wouldn’t have felt that. It wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have the personal relationships that I do here."